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UK’s wealthiest sustain higher giving, but major gifts recede 

The median level of giving among the UK’s wealthiest individuals rose for the fourth quarter in a row to £1,000, up from £528 for the quarter ending in June. This figure suggests that half of those with wealth more than £5 million made a gift of £1,000 or more during the summer months. 

However, the data also show there were fewer large gifts during the quarter. In June, the largest gift recorded for the previous quarter was £250,000. In September, it was £45,000. This is the second year when the value and frequency of major gifts has peaked from March-June before tailing off in the summer months. 

The effect of this was a sizeable drop in the mean, from £12,627 to £3,306 for those with more than £5 million in personal wealth. 

However, the positive upward trend in the median over the last year hints that £1,000 gifts are perhaps becoming more frequent in this top tier of the wealthy population. 36% of pentamillionaires said they gave more than planned during the quarter. There was also a significant increase in quarterly gifts of £1,000 – £5,000 among those with wealth greater than £10 million.

The median also picked up among those in the £1 million – £2 million wealth band, doubling from £150 to £300 during the quarter. This means more than half of millionaires in this bracket gave more than £300 in the previous quarter.

figure 1 hnw giving

Figure 1: Median* level of giving by HNWs (in previous quarter).

mean giving

Figure 2: Mean** level of giving by HNWs (in previous quarter).

The results suggest that sizeable major gifts are receding following the pandemic, with philanthropists and major donors returning to their more regular seasonal patterns. However, there remains an opportunity for charities to connect with those in the top tier wealth bands, particularly those with wealth greater than £5 million who have been giving more in recent months.

Going forward, efforts to sustain and grow this wider base of HNW giving will be important through the Covid-19 recovery. 

These latest quarterly results are based on responses from 487 UK-based millionaires. The research forms part of a quarterly pulse survey on high-net- worth (HNW) giving in the UK, carried out by Beacon Collaborative and Savanta.

A note on the median and mean

* The median provides an indicator for what is happening to giving across the whole of the wealthy population. The median refers to the exact midpoint of the dataset, so half of the population gives above this level and half below. 

** The mean is sensitive to levels of giving among the most generous in the wealthy population. This is the average as calculated by adding all datapoints together and dividing by the number of datapoints in the set. It can can easily be skewed by a small number of very high-level donors.